Considerable advances in science on molds and their potential health effects continue. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the World Health Organization, and Health Canada all agree that living or working in a building with mold damage results in an increased risk of respiratory disease. There are no accepted national or international standards for mold investigation, evaluation, or remediation, though several guideline documents exist.
AIHA takes advice from such agencies and creates current inspection and sampling protocols, such as Recognition, Evaluation, and Control of Indoor Mold, also known as the "Green Book." These methods are suitable for assessing hidden contamination and directing essential visual inspections. For health outcomes, no exposure assessment methods exist to provide individuals useful information. This is because each person’s response to mold exposure is unique.
A complex problem
The scientific complexities surrounding this issue is a huge challenge. The truth is that other, less scientific, difficulties dwarf them. Media attention on this topic creates emotionally charged circumstances. This renders scientific and professional judgment and reasoned dialogue challenging. In some instances, building owners often ignore or dismiss potentially serious problems. Many indoor air quality (IAQ) problems are not mold-related. Buildings, however, seldom have only one indoor environmental quality problem. In some instances, occupants or public officials with dubious mold sampling reports react with alarm to potential threats. This makes risk communication difficult.
A well-informed resource for the public
The resources offered below are practical information based on experience by AIHA volunteers. This is not a claim to be a definitive or comprehensive position statement. While not exhaustive, this information is best used in conjunction with other guidance documents and professional judgment by qualified consultants and public health officials.
Public and occupational health practice is rarely an exact science. Prevention is the challenge of making tough and often costly decisions with incomplete information or understanding.
Information & Resources
When significant mold or other sewage contamination has occurred, it is recommended that business and homeowners seek professional guidance before attempting to clean large amounts of contaminated materials. Industrial hygienists and other safety and health professionals can anticipate health and safety concerns and design solutions to prevent exposures using guidelines established by governmental agencies and institutions such as the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification. The following agencies and organizations have guidance related to mold response:
American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA)
- Facts About Mold: An AIHA Perspective for IEQ Investigators, Physicians, and Engineers
- Facts About Mold: A Consumer Focus
- FAQs About Spore Trap Air Sampling for Mold for Direct Microscopical Examination
- Mold and Dampness in the Built Environment Position Statement
- Health and Safety Issues in Natural Disasters (Publication)
- Guidelines for Selecting an Indoor Air Quality Consultant
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
- NIOSH Recommendations for the Cleaning and Remediation of Flood-Contaminated HVAC Systems: A Guide for Building Owners and Managers
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration
For IH/OEHS and IAQ professionals, the updated "Green Book" is available
Scrutinized by external peer review, this new release offers expertise from industrial hygiene practitioners, academics, government officials, and scientists. Peruse a sample chapter below.
- Underlying principles & background of evaluation and control, building evaluation, data interpretation, remediation, and control.
- Images of mold found in building exterior and interior.
- Innovative methods and approaches to several situations.